Prior Experience with Non-Prescribed Buprenorphine: Role in Treatment Entry and Retention

Laura B. Monico, Shannon Gwin Mitchell, Jan Gryczynski, Robert P. Schwartz, Kevin E. O'Grady, Yngvild K. Olsen, Jerome H. Jaffe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Buprenorphine availability continues to expand as an effective treatment for opioid dependence, but increases in availability have also been accompanied by increases in non-prescribed use of the medication. Utilizing data from a randomized clinical trial, this mixed-method study examines associations between use of non-prescribed buprenorphine and subsequent treatment entry and retention. Quantitative analyses (N= 300 African American buprenorphine patients) found that patients with prior use of non-prescribed buprenorphine had significantly higher odds of remaining in treatment through 6. months than patients who were naïve to the medication upon treatment entry. Qualitative data, collected from a subsample of participants (n= 20), identified three thematic explanations for this phenomenon: 1) perceived effectiveness of the medication; 2) cost of obtaining prescription buprenorphine compared to purchasing non-prescribed medication; and 3) convenience of obtaining the medication via daily-dosing or by prescription compared to non-prescribed buprenorphine. These findings suggest a dynamic relationship between non-prescribed buprenorphine use and treatment that indicates potential directions for future research into positive and negative consequences of buprenorphine diversion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)57-62
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Substance Abuse Treatment
StatePublished - Oct 1 2015


  • Buprenorphine
  • Buprenorphine diversion
  • Opioid dependence
  • Treatment retention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Phychiatric Mental Health
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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